Pre-construction Condo Analysis: Zen Condos


Condo Analysis: Zen Condos (originally published Sept. 22, 2017)

Alan O. Wong, sales representative

I had a recent inquiry about Zen Condos, which has been heavily marketed recently. Not only has the housing market has seen some slowing down this Summer and heading into Fall, but new condo launches this time of year has been also fairly quiet. CentreCourt Development launched Zen Condos a few weeks ago at the eastern entrance of Liberty Village. The property is on the northwest corner of Strachan and East Liberty Street and will be a 32-storey 481-unit condo building, while across the street, on the southwest corner, CentreCourt will be building a mirror-image tower, but a few floors shorter, which will be all rental apartment units  — this pair of matching towers will effectively form the eastern gateway to Liberty Village.

Pros: CentreCourt is a quality builder with lots of condo experience in the downtown core. I expect Zen Condos to be of similar quality and features of their other developments, such as INDX, Peter Street Condos, and Karma Condos, which should fair better than most of the existing buildings in Liberty Village which has been largely built by mediocre developers over the years. CentreCourt doesn’t suffer from extensively long building delays as many other developers do, however there will be 7 levels of parking due to the narrow site, so excavation and foundation work will take some time. Like many larger condo buildings there will be ample amenities within the building including a running track, indoor pool/spa, party room, guest suites and a gym — this is the kind of amenities that will attract renters. There will also be a large grocery store built across the street which is desperately needed in this neighbourhood.

Cons: The area is still considered Liberty Village, though it’s location is heavily downplayed in all its marketing (often referring it to King West or the SoHo of Toronto) — it’s a neighbourhood you either love or hate, and similar to CityPlace, has a reputation of being home to tons of forgettable cookie-cutter condos and tons of young renters. Traffic and transit has been an issue in the area for a long time and will get even worse as Liberty Village gets built-out as about 3,000 new units of housing will be built within 200m of this intersection.
While the unit layouts are pretty efficient with not much space wasted, they are sized as typical investor units with most 1-bedrooms in the 400-500 sq.ft. range, and most 2-bedrooms less than 700 sq.ft.
The 5-tower Garrison Point development east of Strachan (a development I was involved in) will block most of its city views, and two new towers to the south will block much of the lake views. Garrison Point will also feature at least 3 towers of rental apartments, adding to the heavy competition of the rental market in that area.

Entrance looking northeast from Liberty Street East

My Final Thoughts: Zen is priced at $880-$930/sq.ft. which is inline with current resale condo prices in much of central downtown Toronto, however the values in Liberty Village has lagged behind due to its large inventory of mediocre condos which much of it is investor-driven. There will be more new condo launches later this year for those looking for a pre-construction condo investment (many at very appealing price points), so it’s best to hold off and wait for launches with greater potential. We are now seeing larger units seeing greater demand in the rental market and resales, as tiny 1-bedroom and sub-700sq.ft. 2-bedroom units dominate the inventory of condos. 

Below are some of the current sales listings in the vicinity. Please feel free to contact me for expert advice and assistance on any pre-construction condos or resales.

Cheers! -Alan.

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